Friendship is a true gift, whether it’s between kindergartners on the playground or countries in the midst of political turmoil. Alliances between nations can be seen as friendship taken to the international level.
Given this fact, it should be quite apparent that Israel and the U.S. are friends in geopolitical terms. Despite any policy differences we might have, support for Israel is a natural outgrowth of American interests in the Middle East.
Surely, there are times when the Israeli government may make mistakes, as any 21st century government does. But are Israel’s sins deserving of The Israel Lobby, a book which, according to a description on Amazon.com, is based on an article which challenged “what had been a taboo issue in America: the impact of the Israel lobby on U.S. foreign policy”?
In this highly controversial book, authors John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government make the case that U.S. support of Israel is not entirely explainable in terms of strategic or moral interests. The authors argue that the Israel lobby promotes policies that are actually not in the best interests of either America or Israel.
New insights into old relationships–especially relationships between nations–are to be welcomed. In fact, dialogue and dissent are important components of the American democratic tradition. There should be no unwritten commandment in the publishing world that says “Thou shalt not criticize Israel.” But it would appear that The Israel Lobby goes beyond valid criticism, castigating without cause American supporters of Israel. In the world of The Israel Lobby, figures such as Richard Perle are seen as traitors.
Such verbal attacks are counter-productive and contrary to the spirit of respectful American debate. Unfortunately, they can also be seized upon by anti-Semites who want to see Israel not simply humbled, but destroyed. Mearsheimer and Walt do not question Israel’s right to exist as a nation, but their work may fuel the fire of anti-Semitic feelings, not only in this nation, but abroad as well.
In this age where marital status is often changed more than college majors, loyalty may seem old-fashioned, but it actually should be celebrated, especially between countries with common interests.
Mearsheimer has stated, “What we really need to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is for the United States to act even-handedly. The United States needs to be even-handed and put pressure on both sides.” Such a statement may sound reasonable enough, but it is an inadequate response to zealots who would like nothing better than to see Israel erased from the world map.
Sometimes, vociferous criticism of a country’s foreign policies by members of the Ivory Tower is actually a sign that that nation is doing something right. The Israel Lobby may be proof positive that supporters of Israel are following the correct path.